Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, in which a rotating duo of Multiversity staffers take a look at two stories contained in each installment of Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump. For the uninitiated, Weekly Shonen Jump is an anthology that delivers more than 200 pages of manga of all varieties. We hope that you’ll join us in exploring the world of Weekly Shonen Jump each week. If you are unfamiliar, you can read sample chapters and subscribe at Viz.com.
This week, Zach and Vince review “Boruto” and “Food Wars.” If you have any thoughts on these titles, or “We Never Learn,” “Black Clover,” “The Promised Neverland,” “My Hero Academia,” “Dr. Stone,” “Robot X Laserbeam,” “Yu-Gi-Oh Arc V,” or “Hunter X Hunter,” let us know in the comments!
Also, in case you missed it, a few weeks ago Darcy sat down with English Weekly Shonen Jump Editor in Chief Andy Nakatani about the magazine – check it out!
Food Wars! Chapter 252 – Final Battle
Written by Yuto Tsukuda
Illustrated by Shun Saeki
Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski
And so, the day I’ve been fearing has finally come. The day that I would review a chapter of “Food Wars!” that was so utterly gratuitous in its fanservice, that I could not avoid talking about it. I love “Food Wars!” even with its faults, because I’m fascinated by the way that it turns shonen-style culinary battles into exercises in varied visual presentation, enthusiasm, and true knowledge of the culinary world. When this manga is at its best, it can generate the same sort of visceral excitement that a high intensity martial arts comic can. Along with that, “Food Wars!” has brought a predilection for over-sexualization of its characters since the very first chapter. I honestly think that most of the time it errs on the fun, irreverent side and actually does go out of its way to be equal opportunity (men and women both experience “food-gasms” that tear their clothes off). What makes Chapter 252 so frustrating is that it contains the best that “Food Wars!” has to offer when it comes to depicting a battle, and possibly the most unnecessary fanservice yet.
Because this is the way these things generally go, the Resistance chefs are neck-and-neck with the Central chefs in the toughest advancement exam yet. The confident Takumi is taking on the eccentric Rindo of Central (at one point looking like a character in bone armor from Monster Hunter World in one of “Food Wars!” most appealing and unique costume designs yet). The culinary battle doesn’t disappoint, as writer Tsukuda-san elegantly describes two incredible dishes (presumably concocted by series contributor and chef Yuki Morisaki) to the reader with such unique detail that it frankly made me pretty hungry. Shun Saeki’s art renders these dishes as if they come from some other plane of existence. While the characters in “Food Wars!” are handsomely drawn, they are pretty standard manga fare. Saeki’s craft becomes next level when bringing the cuisine to life. Extra textures and granular detail help make the food presentations something special, and give the reader a better understanding of what makes these dishes so unique. Food that looks like this only comes from learned chefs like the ones who participate in these battles and the full illusion of this is only achieved because Saeki puts such care into these sequences. They never fail to tickle the senses.
Unfortunately, this is also where this chapter takes the opportunity to turn the male gaze aspects up to 11. The foodgasm comes in the form of a lingerie display, complete with detailed descriptions of how the lingerie accentuates certain — ahem — curvaceous areas of of the body. “Food Wars!” has attempted stuff like this before to much greater comic effect. The main problem here is that the premise just isn’t really that funny. Foodgasms past have had a keen comic element to them, or at least were a direct, albeit over-the-top manifestation of how eating truly delicious food can make you feel. There’s a weird disconnect here in eating delicious food turning into a Victoria’s Secret runway show. I know that’s meant to be part of the absurdity of it all, and while I’m definitely not a prude, this one landed on the other side of skeevy, for me.Continued below
Final Verdict: 6.0 – “Food Wars!” I love you, but this one was a little much. Literally a showcase of both the best and the worst the manga has to offer, side by side.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Chapter 21
Written by Ukyo Kodachi
Illustrated by Mikio Ikemoto
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
As the chapter title states, this month’s installment of “Boruto” is certainly all about “how you use it.” This is true from a plot standpoint, as Boruto and company demonstrate that the value and success of scientific ninja tools is dependent on how they utilized. However, the title takes on a metatextual significance as well, as this successes and failings of this chapter hinge on how well the team utilizes the monthly Weekly Shonen Jump format.
In some ways, this is among the strongest chapters of “Boruto” to date. Artist Mikio Ikemoto is is in spectacular form, delivering some of the strongest visuals in the series thus far. Ikemoto’s character work is astoundingly detailed, particularly in the case of the villain characters. Both Ao and Kashin Koji are brilliantly realized. Ao is a cyborg Frankenstein’s monster with a deformed face, patchwork body, and robotic arm. Even with half a face, however, Ikemoto is able to convey the character’s brokenness, his last remaining shreds of humanity. Ao is terrifically contrasted by the regal Koji, whose lion-esque mane of hair and beard are concealed behind cloak and mask. Like many of the series’ past villains, the character oozes enigma, and his short appearance hear is tantalizing.
Even more impressive are the chapter’s fight scenes, which compare quite favorably to some of the earlier battles within the pages of “Naruto.” Ikemoto’s use of small, asymmetrical panels do a terrific job of leading the eye, creating a sense of fluid animation. A great example of this is page 176 in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, sampled in the image above. The energy blast from Ao in the top panel travels downward and to the right, leading to the bottom-right panel. Out of the explosion, we see Mitsuki leap upward and to the left in a blur. This leads to the mid-left panel, showing Mitsuki suspended midair. The downward slant of the panel’s bottom edge naturally leads to the final panel of the page. As an added bonus, this small panel features Ao looking to the left, leading the reader to the next page and panel, featuring a pulled back view of Ao in a similar pose, dodging past Mitsuki. This a fun, engaging sequence, and not even the best of which the chapter has to offer. The fight sequence does feature some well-worn series tropes. Does anyone feel any sense of doubt or urgency when Boruto is seemingly impaled by his own sword? No, because shadow dopplegangers. Nevertheless, Kodachi’s interesting implementation of new tools like the jutsu absorbing gauntlets and the chakra blade keep things fresh and compelling.
However, back to the “how you use it” theme, the argument can definitely be made that the team is not utilizing the monthly format to its fullest. At mere forty-ish pages, this chapter contains only about half as much content as a weekly series would present in a month’s time. Considering that nearly all of those pages are committed to a fight sequence, there’s little time to expand upon the series’s ongoing plot threads. We’re currently 6 months into this latest arc, but it feels like it’s just beginning. That level of decompression is a little disconcerting, especially this early in the manga’s run. While the book’s high profile and quality art lend well to its prestige monthly format, the argument can certainly be made that the story would be better serviced by its predecessor’s weekly format.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – A well crafted chapter that puts more focus on art than plot progression, yet ultimately remains quite satisfying.